Patricia McKillip (1948-2022)

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Tagged: the changeling sea, the riddle-master of hed, patricia mckillip, the sorceress and the cygnet, fool's run

This afternoon, Locus posted an obituary for Patricia McKillip.

I have trouble finding what to say. Really a large part of everything I've written has started with "Maybe I could do that too." After reading Riddle-Master or Changeling Sea or Fool's Run or just remembering a line or a phrase or a turn of thought.

I'm gonna just go back into my book room and pick out some words.

"If you hate the sea so now," Mare asked in wonder one day, "why don't you leave?" Mare was a few years older than Peri, and very pretty. She came to work in the morning with a private smile in her eyes. Down at the docks, Peri knew, was a young fisherman with the same smile coming and going on his face. Mare was tidy and energetic, unlike Carey, who dreamed that the king's son would come to the inn one day and fall in love with her green eyes and raven tresses. Carey was slow and prone to breaking things. Peri attacked her work grimly, as if she were going to war armed with a dust cloth and a coal scuttle.

That same smile.

He woke in the morning, face-down in a book. Nyx was stirring the fire.

"You should never sleep between two spells," she commented.

Witches and magicians turn out to be the protagonists. It's common these days but back then they drifted on-stage as helpmeets and quest-givers and destinations. McKillip's could be confused, arrogant, ignorant, and central. Sometimes the sorcerer ran off with the girl or the boy rather than vice versa.

"...Then, outside the seventh door, his name was called again; but the Thing did not touch the door. He waited in despair for it to enter, but it did not. Then he grew impatient, longing for it to enter, but it did not. Finally he reached out, opened the door himself. The Thing was gone. And he was left to wonder, all the days of his life, what it was that had called out to him."

He stopped. Elliard said in spite of himself, "Well, what was it?"

"Kern didn't open the door. That is the only riddle to come out of Hed. The stricture, according to the Riddle-Masters at Caithnard is this: Answer the unanswered riddle. So I do."

So I do, when I'm most myself.

The walls flickered around them at the changing hour. The chartreuse heated to a vibrant orange that caused them both to duck over their beers.

"Lord," Sidney said painfully. "I had no idea what goes on here at this time of morning."

My virtual space on IFMud runs in those times and colors. Well, my colors, not the Constellation Club's. Later, I put them in Dreamhold. I may yet run them up the walls of my house.

Calyx made a satisfied noise. "Here we are. According to Chrysom, the power to move Ro House is passed from generation to generation of Holders' children, who are born with an innate ability, for the Holders instinctively seek out as mates those who may inspire the power within the child conceived."

...They all gazed at Iris. She put down her needlework uncertainly, flushing. The Holder's brows had risen. She pulled a pin out of her hair absently, her mind running down the past; a smile, reminiscent, wondering, touched her eyes.

"Mother," Iris said accusingly.

"Well, I didn't know," the Holder said. "He seemed a very practical man."

Just look at them.

Peace, tremulous, unexpected, sent a taproot out of nowhere into Morgon's heart.

For us all.